Friday, June 11, 2010

Off Road Cycling

So a few Green Bastards have been busy mountain biking the last few months and I figured it was time for a check in. Here goes: Tanya raced across Pennsylvania, Mike won a really long race and I went to a bunch of XC races around Ontario and Quebec with various combinations of Matt/Neil/Anna/Dave and of course Trish. We stepped on a few podiums and shared a lot of junk food and laughs. I'm sure the others can add some details from their own experiences. Here's my story.

I always consider the weeks from mid-April to the first of June to be my Season One each year. It's the first big block of racing. This year it kicked off a little earlier with my first trip to Battenkill. That was one of the most enjoyable races I've participated in so the next few weeks of familiar races maybe seemed a little too familiar. Still good times though.
The first two Ontario Cups, as I've already written, went pretty well -- 4th and 1st in the Old Man Expert race. I really don't set season goals but winning at least one of the O-Cups probably should be a goal. So there: objective met.
Up next was the Canada Cup at Mt. Tremblant. Last year I made the podium so I was hoping for a good result. The course at Tremblant is pretty nuts. Classic Quebec: big gravel climb followed by insane descent. That more or less sums up Camp Fortune but doesn't describe the full Tremblant experience as the course also has another significant climb at the midpoint, expertly crafted singletrack, bridges, ramps, cobblestones, cheering spectators... even a 6okph bike path descent. Excellent race course that challenges both rider and bike in every way imaginable... And I sucked there this year. 7th place wasn't what I hoped for. I felt sluggish and slow on the big opening climb and just never got going. Looking back I think that had a lot to do with "over preparing" the day before the race. The crazy technical nature of the course kind of freaked us out so Neil and I decided it would be a good idea to really familiarize ourselves with the course by doing 3 steady/hard laps the afternoon before the race. That pre-ride took 1700 calories according to Neil's on board diagnostics system. Pretty big effort. Combine that with a tonne of running around in the feed zone (which is half way up a mountain) before the race and I was spent on the start line. Oh well -- lesson learned.
A couple days later we were back at it at Camp Fortune for the first Sunset Series race. And the Green Tide made a strong showing. It was great to be leading the race with Matt and Neil on the first climbs. Lime green attack! Of course things broke up later on and we were all handily bested by an unassuming Vincent M. but whatever... we looked super cool for a while! Amazingly, the course was not only dry it was dusty! Camp Fortune in May? Seriously. On the downside, the race was run on more or less the same eroded course they've been using for the last 25 years or so and the results are completely messed. I'm grateful that we have a competitive local race series but this one needs an overhaul.
And a few days later it was off to Hardwood Hills for Canada Cup #3. Now this is how races are supposed to be: wicked course, lots of on site amenities, big turnout. All around great event. My race went better than Tremblant -- 3rd behind Eric Jobin and the mighty Jon Barnes. Jon suffered bad at Tremblant with flat tires and crashes so he was eager to crush us at Hardwood. Done. Eric is nearly his match so I realized by about the end of lap one that I was racing for 3rd. I managed that so I went home happy.

We're a proud bunch of nerds!

A week later and Trish and I made the journey to Midland Ontario for the last Spring O-Cup. I love the course in Midland. It's on a ski hill so it has a lot of steep climbing on technical singletrack, some tricky descents and good flow. I think it's the best of the series now that Elliot Lake is off the calendar. As well, Midland is a nice area to visit. In addition to racing Trish and I shopped at the local Giant Tiger, visited a marsh where we manhandled some turtles and also found an all-you-can-eat beef deal at a local diner. Nice.

This year the course was very greasy from overnight rains. Everything was rideable. But barely. The conditions rewarded those who could clear all the tech bits without resorting to cyclocross techniques. I hate cyclocross so I did everything I could to keep the big wheels rolling. Once our group was clear of traffic from other categories this was not a problem. Again, Barnes and Eric rode away and I battled for 3rd. Despite crashing and smashing my knee up I held onto the last podium spot. Eric finished about 30 seconds ahead in second and Barnes won a minute earlier. They're within reach - but not that day. I had a lousy 2nd lap pushing my bike around lapped traffic that really set me back physically and mentally. And that was that.

People are so used to seeing Jon Barnes up there that nobody even noticed when they replaced him with this floor pump.

See that shirt? It allows me to boast that I am: The Fastest Guy Between the Ages of 30 and 39 Who Does Not Race Elite and Showed Up and Did Well in the Most Ontario Cup XC Races So Far This Year.

The ride of the day belonged to Trish anyway -- 3rd place in the Elite Women's race! She was beaten only by superstars Emily Batty and Amanda Sin fresh off their Spring European campaigns. Trish is fit and can ride difficult singletrack better than most. She worked her way through the field all day and landed right on the podium. Awesome.

Hello ladies.

And that was a great way to end Season One. Three O-Cups, two Canada Cups, one Sunset Series race, Battenkill, a couple of road time trials, Ride of the Damned, Mufferaw Joe... I'm tired and need to recover and train. Season Two starts in July.

Despite seeming to have a melon for a head, Derek Zandstra, one of the fastest dudes in Canada, crushed the men's Elite field at Midland.

1 comment:

Madmountainmike said...

Very full and awesome "season one" Rob - kudos ! Trish is a rockin' and rollin' as well.

You've earned a good rest-up for part deux !

(3 laps tremblant preride ...insane !!) : - )